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Your letter to Governor Apodaca regarding legislation addressing the
restoration of abandoned uranium mill sites (HR 11698) has been forwarded
to my office for comment. I am pleased that HR 11698 provides for the
major problems associated with the proposed DOE Bill that was expressed
in the Governor's March letter to you. In particular, I fully concur
with the provisions of the HR 11698 that shifts the total financial burden
of restoration to the federal government where it rightfully belongs and
allows each state to opt either for state or federal implementation of the
The Environmental Improvement Division staff has reviewed HR 11698 (I
understand the revised Bill 12229, is substantially the same with the
exception of provision for Indian lands and two additional sites). The
staff review has resulted in several suggested changes to the Bill which
are given in the attachment. The primary recommendations are the following:
1) There are two inactive tailings piles in New Mexico that are not

included in the list of sites (Sec. 2(f)). One is located at
Milan and the other at Bluewater. Although these piles are at
the sites of active mills, they are physically separated from
the active piles associated with these operating mills. These
inactive piles were generated in the same time period as the
other inactive piles considered in the DOE study but were not
included in the study.

2) The 140 million dollars allocated for restoration would result

in an average of 7 million dollars per tailings pile. Of the
ten remedial action options offered in the DOE study of the
Salt Lake City site, only two cost less than 7 million dollars
and three cost about 30 million or more. Using 30 million
dollars per site would result in a needed allocation of roughly
600 million dollars. In light of the uncertainties in long-term
tailings disposal technology and inflation, it is believed that
600 million dollars should be allocated to insure adequate
remedial action at all sites.

3) The restoration and disposa? criteria that require the

reduction of radiation levels to (a) the approximate level
which existed before milling operations began or (b) prevents
any further exposure of individuals to radiation emanating
from the tailings, may not be possible or necessary. In most
cases radiation data on preoperational levels are not available,
There is no proven tailings disposal technique which guarantees
zero exposure to the public. Therefore, it is recommended that
the restoration and disposal criteria consist of applicable

federal and state standards and guidelines.
4) There are well over 180 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico

that operated during the 1950's and 1960's. Many of these
mines are improperly sealed and have low levels of radiological
contamination in adjacent areas from ore storage piles, etc.
This problem no doubt exists in other western states. It is
recommended that an authorization be made in the Bill to provide
affected states with assistance so that this problem can be
assessed and a cost estimate generated for remedial action
necessary to protect public health and safety. It is estimated
that an authorization of one million dollars is needed to carry

out the assessment in the affected states,
5) The reference to "abandoned uranium mill sites" should be

changed to "inactive uranium mill tailings sites". The inactive
tailings piles in New Mexico are owned by either first, second
or third generation property owners and have not, in the strict

sense, been abandoned but are simply inactive. Since the Health and Environment Department is responsible for radiological health and safety issues, we are keenly interested in the progress of this legislation. We would appreciate an opportunity to testify in hearings on this legislation. Please contact me if it is possible to still schedule in additional testimony.



Teorges. Goldstein, Ph.D.

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HR 11698


Introductory sentence: change "abandoned uranium mill sites "to" inactive uranium tailings sites".

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3. Page 3, line 18, change "abandoned sites" to "inactive sites".

4. Page 3, line 13, (Sec. 2(d)(2)) - Delete "approximates the level which

existed before milling operations began at such site in order to eliminate any health hazard to residents of the area;"

Insert in its place "meets all applicable federal and state standards

and guidelines." 5. Page 3, line 21, (Sec. 2(d)(3)) - Delete "prevent'any further exposure

of individuals to radiation emanating from the tailings;" Insert in its place - "meet all applicable federal and state standards

and guidelines." 6. Page 4, line 24, (Sec. 2(f)) - Insert "Milan, New Mexico; Bluewater,

New Mexico;"

Insert "and financial" between "technical"

7. Page 5, line 5, (Sec. 2(9))

and "assistance".


Page 5, line 6, (Sec. 2(9)) - Insert "and the state." after "Secretary."


Page 5, line 8, (Sec. 2(n)(11)) - Delete "$140,000.000" and Insert $600,000,000."



Page 5, line 16, change "abandoned uranium mill site" to
uranium tailings site."


Page 5, line 24, (Sec. 3(b)(1)) - Delete "approximate levels which existed
before milling operations began at such sites in order to eliminate any
health hazard to residents of the area.' Insert "are required in Sec. 2(d)."

12. Page 6, line 4, change 'abandoned sites" to "inactive sites."


Page 6, line 5, (Sec. 3(b)(2)) - Delete "which prevents any further
exposure of individuals to radiation emanating from the tailings;".
Insert "specified in Sec. 2(d)."


Page 6, line 14, change "abandoned uranium mill sites" to "inactive
uranium tailings sites".

15. Page 7, line 5, Insert "Sec. 5(a) The Secretary shall upon application

by a State provide financial and technical assistance necessary for
determining the condition of and remedial action necessary for the
minimization of hazards from all abandoned uranium mines in that
State which produced ore for the Federal Government during the
period 1950 to 1968. The determination shall also estimate the
cost necessary to carry out the remedial action. (b) there are
authorized to be appropriated not more than $1,000,000 to carry
out this section."

16. Page 7, line 5, Delete "Sec.5" and Insert "Sec. 6".

Mr. OTTINGER. The record will remain open for weeks.
Thank you very much for your testimony.

The subcommittee asked the Department of Energy to list these sites and the problems associated with them and I see here that in almost every case where there were listed health and safety, in about one-quarter there were none at all listed where there are wind and water and flood control dangers. In only one case there was radiation exposure.

I wonder whether you have any knowledge of whether other health hazards, radiation health hazards have been established and, if so, by whom, on these various sites?

Mr. MARRIOTT. We have met with DOE; we have met with NRC and with a number of local/State authorities and there is no question in any of the minds of the people we have talked to that these do represent some severe health problems.

I am not prepared today to go into detail on those findings, but we will be happy to submit all the information we have as to those health problems to this committee.

Mr. ÖTTINGER. In your State there is Green River, the part-time missile base. The activity adjacent, offsite residential and industry, faces a health effect from flood dangers. Next we have wind and water erosion at Salt Lake City. In no case is there radiation danger listed.

Why shouldn't the company be responsible for the site?

Mr. MARRIOTT. Let me say, first of all, Mr. Chairman, that my bill asks for a specific study to be made determining the total health hazard in this area.

Second, in the case of Salt Lake, for example, the company no longer exists. The company took out bankruptcy and isn't there any more, nor do they have any funds to carry out any type of remedial action, so you couldn't call on the company if they are not here.

Third, my staff indicates that based on the original contracts it was never a condition of those original contracts to be involved in the restoration of those sites.

Mr. OTTINGER. The company was free to leave unsafe conditions? Mr. MARRIOTT. That is my understanding.

Mr. OTTINGER. I think that is something that certainly ought to be pursued. We should not let these companies off the hook. I should think they would have responsibility for the safe operation of the site.

Mr. MARRIOTT. Mr. Chairman, we are working in the Interior Committee on some additional legislation which would deal with ongoing sites and the responsibility of the companies involved in those sites but here we have a case of abandoned or inactive tailing sites and again most of the companies have declared bankruptcy, or at least in the case of Salt Lake, the biggest site, the company no longer exists and even for those who may still be existing, there were no provisions in the original contract for the companies to be involved in this activity whatsoever.

We hope in the future we can solve that problem because I personally feel the companies have some responsibility in this area, but in this case I think it is purely a problem of the Federal Government.

Mr. OTTINGER. More than half of these sites are presently owned by corporations, are quite healthy and in existence. Union Carbide, Exxon, United Nuclear. Maybe we ought to do something where the company is no longer in existence and there are no traceable assets that can be produced. Do you think it should not be protected at all?

Mr. MARRIOTT. I think we should review the contracts carefully and I think we should not get delayed now in long legal battles over whether or not some of these companies have an obligation. I understand there are some of the companies, the larger companies, who have substantial assets who might well be willing to get involved in this, if they are not already, but we are primarily concerned about those areas where there is no identified liability and by terms of the original contract this liability in fact falls upon the Federal Government.

Mr. OTTINGER. Does your legislation contain any provision for the subrogation of the Federal Government, a right that may exist through the contractors?

Mr. MARRIOTT. I am not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I would say my legislation simply puts the burden squarely on the back of the Federal Government where it belongs, and does not allow any way for them to get out of that obligation.

Mr. OTTINGER. It gives them no right to pursue the contract?

Mr. MARRIOTT. I believe the contracts are clear, but I believe if the contracts can be established that somebody else has an obligation, we will be glad to amend my bill in subcommittee to take that into account.

Mr. OTTINGER. I think that should be done at the very minimum. If the Federal Government is going to make a payment, the Government should have a right to pursue the contract, if any right exists.

Mr. MARRIOTT. If you read my testimony very carefully, we have tried to point out several occasions where the Government has assumed that responsibility already and at this point we are not too concerned about contract rights. We will be glad to look at that, but I think we will come up with negative findings.

Mr. OTTINGER. I have a letter dated June 14, 1978, from the Atlantic Richfield Co. to Mr. Dingell, which indicates that they in fact are taking action which they feel appropriate under their contract to fix up the site which they will operate.

Without objection, the letter will be included in the record. [The letter referred to follows:

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